How to Rig Your Golf Cart Motor for More Horsepower

the steering wheel of a golf cart
  • 2-40 hours
  • Advanced
  • 50-500
What You'll Need
Array of hand tools, screwdrivers, sockets, and wrenches
Purchased kits for particular enhancements
Gloves and safety goggles

Modifying your golf cart motor to produce more horsepower can range from simple modifications to complex projects, depending on the desired outcome. There are several modifications that the average person can do themselves, and those that are more mechanically inclined can take on themselves. Here we will talk about modifying a gas powered golf cart, as gas powered engines are much more compatible with upgrading. An electric powered golf cart is engineered around the voltage needed by the electric motor. Usually an entire replacement of the motor is the primary and most effective way to modify the power; however, that necessitates the replacement of many other components on the cart. Due to the inherent functioning of the gas powered cart, there are more options that can influence the power of the motor.

Step 1 - Tune up

A good tune up will increase the performance of an older gas powered motor. Tune up kits can be purchased that are particularly for golf carts and specific sizes of motors. These kits usually include an air filter, oil filters and spark plugs. Change out the air filter, oil filter, spark plug and oil as your first step. This will require an array of hand tools, so have them all handy. Make sure when replacing the oil filter not to strip threads or over-tighten the filter. Make sure you replace the oil reservoir plug. The spark plug may need to be gapped properly, so check the instructions with the plug or owners manual for proper gapping.

Step 2 - Exhaust

Installing a new, performance focused, exhaust can greatly improve the overall performance of your golf cart. The exhaust that the cart is originally outfitted with is usually very restrictive due to noise pollution and environmental concerns. By replacing the manufacturer's exhaust with a performance focused exhaust, this gives the motor improved air flow, increasing the power available tremendously.

Step 3 - Engine Rebuild

Engine rebuild kits can be purchased to overhaul the existing motor. This is a good option for older motors and/or those that have a lot of miles on them. The rebuild kits come with all of the components needed for the job, but a good understanding of mechanics is needed in order to do it. This kind or project is beyond the scope for most do-it-yourself people.

Step 4 - Engine Replacement

Overall engine replacement may be the only way to achieve the desired outcome. Golf cart engines come in a variety of sizes and fits, so do your research on what is appropriate for your particular golf cart. Most modern motors will perform up to ten to twelve horsepower. Ultimately, the motor can also be replaced with the motor from a snowmobile or ATV motor, which will yield the most power, up to one hundred horsepower. This, too, is a project that only should be undertaken by those with a comprehensive knowledge of mechanics, particularly with small motors.